Wednesday, October 07, 2009


David Hauka's Certainty offers a personal perspective on his childhood.Photograph by: Handout, VIFFVancouver's David Hauka had a solid career running productions for big American shows filming here until he stepped back several years ago and remembered why he got into film in the first place.

"When you end up working one [U.S.] show after another, it's not because you're cheap, it's because you're good," says Hauka. "Our American colleagues are good at appreciating individuals who work hard."

Hauka was unit production manager on the 2004 Jon Voight mini-series The Five People You Meet in Heaven. He was lured back briefly to run the crew that filmed scenes in Greenland for the 2006 Disney Antarctic adventure Eight Below.

"Where else would you get a chance to go to places that are so beautiful and so fragile?" Hauka recalls of being dropped off by a helicopter on the remote Arctic coast.

But his work on those big shows also reminded him of what he was missing. After film school, Hauka made short films, directed the 1992 feature Impolite (which played the Vancouver International Film Festival), and produced the 1994 Canadian hit feature Whale Music.

Then the lucrative service industry called, with the downside that he was basically helping others make their films. "It was kind of an intellectual remove, watching it happen as opposed to being part of it."

So five years ago he began work on his own story, a memoir that became this year's festival entry Certainty (9:15 Tuesday night, Pacific Cinémathèque). The beguiling blend of text, music and images gives a deeply personal perspective on childhood, loss, Galileo and the Catholic inquisition, and a kid's memories of Kennedy and the Apollo missions.

Hauka taught filmmaking while working on the film. "I had to explore these areas that are important to dramatic filmmaking, areas of emotional connection."

In practical terms, he also gathered archival footage that included clips from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration as well as a clip from the Zapruder film of John F. Kennedy's assassination. The big-ticket item was licensing the modern and classical pieces of music.

That title is ironic. Certainty is the one thing Hauka doesn't find amid all that beautiful, terrible, sometimes funny mystery. Now he's back to fiction, with a ghost story script he's pitching to producers.